BOSTON — Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sitting on death row for almost five years, but on Thursday his defense lawyers will argue for a new trial in federal appeals court. They’ll have to convince a three-judge panel that his conviction should be thrown out.
Tsarnaev won’t be in the courtroom, but his lawyers will be, making more than a dozen arguments claiming he didn’t get a fair trial. They’ll have an hour to state their case and prosecutors will have an hour as well.
Tsarnaev was found guilty of carrying out the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings with his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Tamerlan was killed by authorities, while Dzhokhar was sentenced to death in 2015.
Three people died and more than 260 were wounded in the attack.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers tried to get his case moved out of Boston to another jurisdiction, saying that Boston was impacted emotionally and that it would be hard to find anyone who wasn’t prejudiced by what happened.
The defense claims that one person tweeted that Tsarnaev was a piece of garbage and lied on her questionnaire.
Former criminal defense attorney Peter Elikann spoke to Boston 25 News on Thursday morning, and said Tsarnaev’s lawyers are working to get him off of death row.
“I’ve seen the SuperMax [prison] where he’s held…it really is a living nightmare to be in," Elikann said. "You’re really just entombed in concrete there – it really is miserable – some people would prefer the death penalty to that.”
His lawyers admitted at the beginning of his trial that he and his older brother set off the two bombs, but they argued Tsarnaev is less culpable than his brother. They’re challenging the judge’s refusal to allow the defense to introduce evidence tying Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the 2011 killings of three people in Waltham.
If the judge denies Thursday’s appeal, Elikann believes Tsarnaev’s defense team will take this to the Supreme Court. It could be weeks or months before a final ruling is made.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.